AHL stars still shining: Daniel Briere

A first-round draft pick in 1996, Daniel Briere was the driving force for the Buffalo Sabres during their 2006 Stanley Cup Playoff run. Briere led the Sabres and ranked fourth among all players in the playoffs with 19 points while leading Buffalo within one game of the Finals.

Prior to wearing the “C” for Buffalo, Briere was an American Hockey League All-Star in 1998, his first year pro, with the Springfield Falcons. The Gatineau, Que., native ranked fourth in the AHL in scoring that year and led all rookies with 36 goals, 56 assists and 92 points in 68 games on his way to winning the Dudley “Red” Garrett Award as rookie of the year. He also played his first five NHL games with the Phoenix Coyotes.

Briere would spend four seasons bouncing between Phoenix and Springfield before earning a permanent NHL job with the Coyotes in 2001-02. He scored a team-best 32 goals that season, still a career high.

After a trade to Buffalo in 2003, Briere enjoyed another fine year with 65 points in 82 games in 2003-04. Following the lockout, Briere put up 58 points in 48 games during an injury-shortened regular season, then had the Sabres on the brink of a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals before a Game 7 loss to Carolina in the Eastern Conference championship series.

Now 29 years old, Briere leads one of the highest powered offenses in the NHL in 2006-07. He has 34 assists and 50 points in 43 games on the year heading into Thursday’s tilt with Toronto, and was recently named to the starting lineup for the 2007 NHL All-Star Game in Dallas.

Of the 394 players to take part in the AHL All-Star Classic since 1995, more than 93 percent have competed in the National Hockey League, including Patrice Bergeron, Brad Boyes, Jonathan Cheechoo, Pavol Demitra, Rick DiPietro, Patrik Elias, Ray Emery, Miikka Kiprusoff, Kari Lehtonen, Ryan Miller, Dwayne Roloson, Martin St. Louis, Jason Spezza, Eric Staal, Steve Sullivan and Kyle Wellwood.

The 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic will take place at Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto, home of the AHL’s Marlies. The event features the 2007 CCM AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday, January 28 (7:00 ET) and the 2007 AHL All-Star Game on Monday, January 29 (7:00 ET), and will be televised live on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada and on a network of regional broadcast partners in the United States.

For ticket and event information, visit http://www.torontomarlies.com/news/07allstargame.asp